In Pictures: Rough rides on Indian trains

Millions travel in discomfort in unreserved general compartments as infrastructure fails to keep pace with time.


New Delhi, India - Indian Railways is the world's largest railway network, with a total length of 65,000 km and 7,500 stations.

But passenger comfort is not its strongest selling point and travelling inside unreserved general compartments, in particuluar, could be a hellish experience.

The infrastructure in these carriages has seen little change since the British colonial era, unlike the air-conditioned coaches for which the tickets cost more. People travelling for long distances in these compartments have to face unbearable conditions. There is room for only 72 people to sit, and no provisions are made for people who want to sleep. At times, more than 500 people are forced to travel on these carriages - often for journeys that take several days.

But however uncomfortable, rising fuel costs mean trains remain one of the cheapest mode of travel in the country.

A recent estimate suggests that this year alone, about 900 million people will travel in the general compartments. At night, the sleeping passengers resemble heaps of dead bodies in a war zone.